Friday, June 1, 2012

Don't Shrug the Shrubs!

KCB is back this week. She is busy putting the Finishing Touches on many a landscape and she has a few great things she would like us to know!

“I don’t know about you, but my knees are sore and my back is feeling a pang or two.  I’ve done lots of planting this past week.  The rain has erased some of my concern for proper watering still I watered each plant before going on to the next.  So now what?  Patience!  There may be some blank spaces. Nevertheless, if you placed properly the gaps will soon fill in. Don’t forget to take pictures as things progress. Once a week at this time of the year is not too often. Some of the gardens I attend to have considerably changed over the past 2 weeks.  Just the other day, at the site of white & purple lollipops (Alliums) I could not help but smile.  I think it’s the constant changing that may keep me hooked most of all.

Step back, take a critical look.  While waiting for the bountiful blooms there can still be color; have you chosen plants with vibrant foliage?  Still not too late. Adding Heuchera can paint a palette of Rainbow proportions before one bud protrudes.  Sedum for the sun, Fulda’s Glow, cauticola Lidakense, Dragon’s Blood & the Variegatum stand-out sans blooms.  However don’t discount the blooms of this buxom bunch. So many choices, it could make your head spin. Stick to a couple, purchase in odd number lots, all will be fine. Still, I want more. It’s always the way. Therefore, this season I am going beyond the herbaceous for the wonderful woody. I’m looking to shrubs to fill my needs.  A woody plant is one of the best ways to incorporate multi season interest of sum & substance.  With so many options I have some tried and true favorites I’d like to share.

I never weary of WeigelaVariegated, the new Rainbow Sensation with foliage of yellows, pale pinks and creams, and /or Wine & Roses fill larger gaps.   For smaller spaces look to the Midnight Wine, My Monet, or the new My Monet ‘Sunset’. These take up no more space than a large perennial. All sparkle on their own and the prolific blooms of May & June add to the excitement. Pruning will produce sporadic blooms throughout the summer.  Feeling a little less than angelic?  Check out the ‘Little Devil’ Ninebark. Pair with Magic Carpet Spirea for a show stopping look.  Neon Greens, Deep Plums offer a ‘no thought’ coupling.  The Smoking Cousins of Golden Spirit and Grace Smoke Bush create stop in your tracks autumn color; in the mean time, the pair offer summer fun of the aforementioned Neon & Purple foliage.  Don’t fret if your bushes don’t smoke in the first couple of seasons. Even the shrub families have their age limits before that first puff is produced, often into their 3rd year.  Want something a little less flashy? Consider what I call, ‘The little Black Dress of the landscape’. The quiet elegance of the Black Lace Sambucas Elderberry.  Pale pink blossoms of June act as lace accents against the dark ebony plum foliage while the blackish berries can be harvested in the fall for your own enjoyment.  On the other hand, leave them for your feathered friends. Want to lighten up a shady corner?  Ivory Halo or Silver & Gold Dogwood will do the trick.  If you don’t head south for the winter you will be able to take advantage of their colorful stems of red or gold against a carpet of snow. Want more fire in the winter, than the Arctic Fire is the dogwood shrub for you.

Is your backyard becoming wetter as more trees are felled for development? Then the Hakuro-nishikiDappled Willow will create a back drop that neighbors will envy. No true blooms as the foliage steal the show.  Cream, white and the palest of pink on tiny leaves sway gently in the slightest of breezes. .  The more the merrier as in sweeps of plantings; it is a party of epic proportions.  A tree form is also available. Use this as a punctuation point in an otherwise ordinary landscape.

A Hedge of Dappled Willow--They Look Great as a Hedge or "by the Single"

Over the years I am including more of these woody wonders as accents in my perennial beds.  When asked why by clients and peers alike I shrug as I answer ‘why not’?  Shouldn’t a mixed bed be truly mixed?

Note:  This is just a small example of the exciting shrubs available.  Once established they often need minimal care. Perfect for the person who is, um, maturing, or those with a growing family with less time to spend gardening.  Try it and next time you won’t be shrugging the shrub.

 KCB is a professional gardener and friend who does wonderful work in the Greater Portland area. KCB is also an accredited Master Gardener by the Cooperative Extension Service and we are honored to have KCB as part of our Skillin's Garden Log family. KCB can also be found at the awesome Finishing Touches website.

KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses

June 1, 2012

1 comment:

Tree Service Charlotte said...

Shrubs are just as important as trees! And all other pieces on one's landscape.

-Tony Salmeron